Starwood recently announced plans to develop one of its element brand hotels in Ewing, New Jersey. The element Ewing will be located just outside Trenton in Mercer County and feature 123 guest rooms with a modern design aesthetic. The project plans to seek an unspecified level of LEED certification pursuant. LEED-standard features in each element hotel include Energy Star-rated appliances and lighting, water-efficient fixtures, low-VOC and recycled-content materials, and priority parking for hybrid vehicles. The element Ewing will offer guests 2900 square feet of meeting space and rooms with modular furniture and a full kitchen.
Each hotel that opens under Starwood’s element brand is required to pursue LEED certification, which raises some interesting issues with respect to franchise law. Many hotels are independently owned and operated pursuant to a franchise agreement; the element Ewing will be developed by American Properties Realty Inc. and managed by Hersha Hospitality Management. What’s important to consider is whether there are any provisions in the controlling agreement with respect to LEED certification, or what recourse, if any, Starwood may have if the hotel ultimately fails to reach the required level of LEED certification.
The element Ewing is scheduled to open up next November; Starwood is also planning an element hotel for Times Square that would open sometime in 2010.